Saturday, 8 December 2012

Do you have the candidate X-Factor?

We all know how frustrating job hunting is. You send off application after application and receive no responses.  Or worse, your application or CV is not even downloaded from the job site.  Employees don't call after a face-to-face interview to let you know if you have the job or not. This list can go on and on.

It's frustrating on all fronts. With so many people going for the one job, companies are bogged down with candidates.  So if you do get an interview or contact from the 'inside' ask for feedback as this will help you know what you can do better next time or even things that you can change.

So get ready to make some notes as RDF's Entertainment Development Executive, Neale Simpson offers his tips on the how to have the X-Factor and why some candidates did or did not stand out when they applied for his latest role.

Neale says, "In many cases it was genuinely extremely difficult to shortlist people to the final few for interview.  Here are some reasons a few candidates stood out more than others".

The job add
“Question: What makes you a stand out candidate?
This is a horrible question, but if you are going to be any good at convincing other people about your ideas, you need to be able to sell yourself.  Many people put largely pointless paragraphs on their CVs, 'I'm highly motivated, a great team player, really creative...', but this question was an open invitation to really sell yourself and highlight your strengths.  A lot of people dodged the question or talked about why they wanted the job.” 

“Question: List your 3 favourite tv shows?
We didn't say 'entertainment shows', but we are looking for people who are genuinely passionate about entertainment.  It was interesting that so many people put no, or only one, entertainment show down. Good answers demonstrated a real understanding of what made great formats and interesting choices for non-entertainment shows.”

“Questions: Pitch a Game show & Music show for X time slot and Channel
We look for well-written, interesting and original ideas with mechanics or a twist that captured our attention.  Good answers demonstrated clear headline ideas with a well thought through vision for the shows.  These were tough slots to answer for and not all candidates nailed both answers, but a consistency in writing and creativity marked out the better candidates.”

“Question: Who would you have replace Noel as Host on Deal or No Deal
Good answers eloquently debated and discussed the merits of their host, taking into account the slot and audience demographic.  This wasn't really a deal-breaker question and talent is a subjective thing, but it was a useful insight into candidate's knowledge of slots and channel tone as the issue of talent in entertainment is always a tricky one.”

“Spelling and grammar.- It was amazing how many spelling mistakes and typos featured in applications...and even on CV's.  If you're going to be tasked with writing treatments your employer needs to have confidence in your eye for detail.”

The shortlisted candidates demonstrated a solid mix of development and production, in mainstream entertainment, and able to name examples of programmes they have helped develop to commission.”

We know that the researcher CV's can't compete on experience, but stand-out candidates were able to convey on their CV's a passion and drive for entertainment and creative work, with extra-curricular commitments during Uni and fascinating projects in their spare time.”

I am very grateful to Neale for allowing me to share these tips for improving television job applications and for those of you who need a 'Tips' break down, here it is.

1.  Direct, bold answers that backed up big statements with clear examples.
2.  Read the question and understanding the genre you want to work in, a genuine passion for something will reflect in your answers.
3.  Be clear and concise about what you are saying.
4.  Check and recheck your work before you send it.
5.  Name examples of past experience that back up your claims.
6.  Hobbies and other experience are useful insights for employees when you don’t have much experience.

 It’s only fitting that Neale has the last word on this topic:

"I hope this gives you a sense of how we (RDF) approached this process, good luck with your other applications".

Monday, 26 November 2012

You get the job... now it’s real.

Are you ready to leave your babies?

My lovely friend Sarah is a Production Manager and with a lot of encouragement she applied for what I thought would be her dream role.  Full-time, close to home and in the same genre and role she did pre-kids. She ticked all the boxes for the role and she really is passionate about the subject, it was made for her (in my eyes).

But right from the start she questioned, did she want to do a full time job? In an industry where these roles a rare I thought it was a no brainer.  What I didn't know where her real fears about leaving her kids with another person.

Sarah was offered a second interview and she phoned asking "am I doing the right thing? I don't want to go for the interview if I don't want the job, how will it work with the kids?".  I thought it was just all those normal fears and questions that get raised when a mum leaves the nest on a more permanent base, but this is not my story.

She was offered the job and given a start date.  And then that is when it became very very real for her 'can I do this'?

 3 weeks later I got this email.

 "I have decided not to take the full time job! Just couldn't bring myself to leave the kids day in day out and have someone else look after them on a full time basis.

I wouldn't feel happy about leaving my boys all day with someone I didn't know. I wouldn't be able to do a good job as I would be worrying too much about them. 

I lost my brother at the age of 21 (I was 19). We were very close. So I am a little more paranoid  than others about the safety of my loved ones. So I have a real issue with someone else driving my kids around. 

We live one mile from a main road so driving is an integral part of my daily life.  As I was interviewing various potential au pairs I had this sinking feeling " what if" something happened to them.

Most of the girls I interviewed for the role had never driven in this country and I felt it was asking for trouble.  I'd already freaked myself out about it prior to that. I also thought that if I was honest with the employer, he may offer me ad hoc freelance work which is exactly what happened. So I'm chuffed to bits about that.

Have to mention though the copious amounts of sleepless nights and analysing with various girlfriends ……. Did my head in after a while! "

I'm thankful Sarah has let me share this journey with you, as I'm sure we all have our very own and real fears, that only we can can work out what is right for us.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Where do I sign up! Let's sing it.

Confidence booster spray tan for Jobless

Metro paper London report
When I first read this, I thought 'Oh what next?' It's great publicity for those offering the spray tan but how crazy.

Then I thought again and now I think it's a good idea,
not just for jobseekers but for anyone who has lost self-confidence.  Self-confidence relates to self-assuredness in one's personal judgement, ability and power to do something or be something.

So whatever it takes to help change someone's opinion of themselves, so be it, and if that is a spray tan, then lucky them. 

I, on the other hand, am not keen on the orange look and so why I 100% get the Gok Wan-style make over to help build lost self-confidence it is only one area that should be looked at in helping and gaining back confidence

I have written about confidence before with Fake it, the next step is to look at practical ways in getting it back and keeping it in when things are not within your control or not going the way you want them to or as fast as you would like.

Remember now is not forever, it's only the start of what is to come and there is always a song out there to help you along the way.

1. You are not alone.

I'm not about to sing you a Micheal Jackson song, but no matter where you are chances are there is someone somewhere in the world having similar thoughts, fears and doubts as you. If it helps belt out Whitney Houston's One Moment in Time.
And to quote a quote from Twitter:

2. Now is not forever.

Whatever your situation now it's NOT forever. It only takes 1 phone call, 1 interview and 1 "yes" and everything changes. 

This rather random song by Jordin Sparks may not be a chart topper but the lyrics will ring home.
3. A step back is not always backwards.
If you're returning to work after a longish break keep an open mind about your role. A step back is not always a step down and you could be simply facing the wrong way. All steps are a sign of moving and that is a good thing.  I could quote a Whitney Houston song again but now it's over to...
4. Think like an employer.

When you're away from the professional environment we get focused on us so, put yourself in the employers' seat and take steps towards being someone you would hire.  

And if you want flexible working hours, great, that is the ideal for all mums, however be sure it works for the company too and not just the school run times,   
Over to you Dolly...

5. Change your mind.
Don't worry if you start out thinking you are going to look for work as an "X" and you change your mind to "Y".  It's ok you're a girl after all and nothing is set in stone, you are not fixed as your last credit as some will try to make out. 

 Be what you want to be.

6. Today's paper is tomorrow's fish n chip wrapper.

You can always start again, no matter where you left off or how bad you thought the last job was, everyone can start over.  Just be realistic about what you can do and your skills, take a course, start reading, research, be active in learning new things.  

After all you're not getting any younger...

7. Dare to Dream.
Dare to Dream as no one can take these away from you but yourself. Life is too short and after all we girls really just want to have fun. (thanks Cyndi)


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Tell me what you want what you really really want

I really really really wanna... 


What attracts your eye
I think the hardest thing about returning to work or looking for work is knowing what we really want, "what you really want'.  With confidence issues, self-doubt and skills that may need a bit of spit and polish it can be very hard to be honest to yourself and say “this is what I want’.  Lets face it you don’t want to disappoint yourself if it does not happen.

Yesterday on a course designed for people like myself returning to work in the TV industry there was no ‘how to’ or ‘this is how its done’ it simply help me work out and be honest with myself what I wanted to do 'next' and what employers would think I could do now.  Not long term but next and now.  
Yes next, more of a career audit then a step back, the trainer was amazing and very clear that careers should be seen in phases - what you do next doesn’t have to be forever.  There was so much more to it but this bit really changed me.

2011 on location
My industry has change, technology, systems, people retired, leave, have babies and I am starting again.  But this time not from scratch, after all, years of knowledge does not leave you. 

I have lots of hindsight, am very skilled, and have a strong track record So I’m great value for money for any employer if I apply for the correct roles. 

One step back is not a reflection on what I can do but a reflection on what a potential employer can see me doing now.  
 And as the saying goes one step back...

Monday, 5 November 2012

The other woman aka the nanny

Once you have decided to go back to work what do you do?  Return to what you did, try something new or take anything you can get?  
My little body guard

I'm sure its a combination of all the above but no matter what you decided there is one thing a mother must do before she can change her status from stay-at-home-mum to working professional. Entrust her beloved children to the other woman (or man), aka the nanny.
It might be a live in au pair, child-minder, nanny or even granny, but unless someone else looks after your little treasures you're not going to get very far from the home.  With no family in the UK and only one kid in school my husband and I decided a full time live in au pair was our only option.
Now it's one thing to say that you're ready to go back to work and trust the kids to another woman's care but the reality is very strange.  You are basically looking for a lady to move into your home, look after the kids, cook for them, help with school work, play with them, make them laugh and well, do all the things mummy does and then pay her for it.
Japanese lunch in Soho
Now there are some adjustments in head space and lifestyle that come with the other woman in your home and a lot come as a pleasant surprise.  It's the before kids freedom that I have gained, the last minute mid-week dinners out in London, if I'm running late it's ok, there is always milk and bread in the house and I get the best of both worlds, freedom and family.

And after all I'll always be mummy.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Fake it until you make it!

Putting the sparkle back in your eyes.  


I'm not a fan of blagging it, or fake it until you make it.  But confidence inspires confidence, well that is what I was told after a recent interview.

Confidence that little voice, knowledge of who you are and what you can do.  That thing for some random reason some of us mums lose it- lost it- can't find it.  It's seems with  every child you pushed out, some how a piece of your confidence to be a working professional went with it.

A couple of years ago I interviewed a lady for a corporate video and she hit the nail on the head.  In her very northern accent she said. “After I had my third baby, I knew I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what, I had lost confidence in me, confidence in being a business women, I don’t know why, I just had."
Dusting off the showreel

I didn't know why, I just had. It’s a mummy thing I think, not all mums lose it but those of us that did or do, need to get it back so we can sell ourselves, be ourselves and, well, just be nicer to be around.

So how do we get this lost confidence back?  

Get out your old CVs, showreels, artwork, references, photos or whatever you did or had for work and simply remind yourself... you did that, wrote it, shot it, researched it, typed it, dreamed it and one day you will do it all again.

And if you don't have confidence, "fake it" until you do! 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Zeitgeist, dreams and hopes.

With Grant Bowler on location... yes the guy from Ugly Betty

Why did I think having children would be the end of the line for working in broadcast?


I can’t answer that, I just did. After 13 years of working with presenters on location, spending hours in the cutting room, hanging contestants from helicopters, placing cameras in every possible place and interviewing and meeting dozens and dozens of contributors, I shifted into corporate and charity work. 

It felt like the zeitgeist had moved on from me.

I wish there was a fitting translation for the word zeitgeist. A moment in time when everything is brilliant, the coming together of all our hopes and dreams and then amplified beyond our hopes.

With no family in the UK my husband and I decided to hire a full time live in au pair to look after the children to give me the freedom to shoot overseas for a few weeks at a time, take a last minute role or stay late to finish an edit without feeling guilty or be stressed about leaving on time.  A great plan, but I just needed a job to pay for it!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Transportable skills

What do you do when you officially have not worked for a very long time?

First take a look at your skill set and apply them to being a mum.  Why?  Well they tell me skills are very transportable and it's more fun than looking for a real job!

1. Excellent time management. 
Kiddy dinner
Only a mum knows how 1 minute late for dinner can turn into a Dr Suess story gone wrong.

2. Working with on air talent, contributors and creatives.
Amazing training for a mum with toddlers and a five year old going on teenager.
3. Budgeting.
Easy when the wallet says "NO more" it means it's gone and it's baked beans for dinner.

4. Manage small and large teams.
Essential skill for anyone going to a playgroup.
What you find in my handbag
5. Experience with single camera crews and multi camera shoots, underwater filming, mounted cameras, working with stunt coordinators, government bodies, tourism offices. 
In reality it means I'm the mum who takes all the photos and videos at everyone's parties, books and finds party venues and arranges the girls' night out.

 6. Familiar with all production paper work, movement orders, call sheets extra.
 Training for the never ending piles of paper found in your kids nursery and school book bags.

7. Scripting half and full hour factual programmes and entertainment news.
Very important to be able to tell a story and feed the mummy grapevine that would put any tabloid to shame!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Turn back the calandar

I say I'm a stay at home mum, well kind of, it's not like I haven't worked in five years.

Over the past 5 years I have produced, directed and edited a number of corporate videos, retrained as a skincare consultant, tried my hand at fundraising and I now run a successful gift and craft market in Godalming.

With two children under 6 you might think I have my hands full.  Well "yes" is the answer but none of these other things have lit a spark when it comes to working.  Like most mums who want it all, we want to be there for our kids, work for ourselves and keep up to date with what is going on in the world.  SO we look for anything that may fill this void.

Here are my void fillers.

Temple Spa rewards for sales
1. My corporate video productions. They are great fun and I loved using all my skills, however I'm not a gun and business and hunting down new clients, I just want to be creative, write and edit nice stories and come up with killer ideas for new shows. And for me it's not the same as working in TV.

2. Temple Spa is a luxury skincare company and I fell into the role of consultant after producing a corporate video for them. I even tried my hand at managing a sales team.  It helped that I used the products for years and years and truly love them.  I was very good at it and made some great pocket money, working nights and around the kids. But again I'm no sales person and while its fun it's just, not me.
Godalming Independent Market

4. Godalming Independent Market
Long story short after a few local mums selling their works got together we decided to put on our own Christmas Market.  I put the payment on the hall and next thing you are all too busy to help, but would love a table at the market.

Borough Hall Godalming- Come inside
As a TV Producer I am skilled at 'Making it happen' so I did. But not just another market selling tat, a market I would want to shop at and one that did not charge me to get in.  I wanted all the stalls to make and sell lovely items not found on the High Street and a real discovery.

The next market will be on November 3rd.  You can see for yourself the stalls going to be there on facebook.

One of the free adds for the Fundraiser
4. Fundraising.  I must say The Team Hannah Health, Beauty and Fitness Fair was the biggest event I have put together on my own. It was fun, stressful and took a lot of time.  I met some lovely people, I worked my butt off and in the end it was a great experience.

A simple comment from the hubby has changed everything it was: "if you're going to work that hard you need to be paid for it". 

And so I started the journey.
Reality Bites

What happened to the blog

Well like all mums life just happen.
40 was a non event apart from a the most amazing night out with my hubby in Soho London.

Lots happened after that and it has sucked up all my time, so over the next few days I'll try to update you in how I went from stay at home mum to a woman with a mission to return to work. But for now here is that great 40th birthday gift from my Hubby the Marc Jacobs bag and a few other special gifts. As they say a picture ...

Friday, 20 April 2012

Today I turned 40

Nothing happen overnight, expect my daughter waking me at 1am but apart from that it’s a nonevent.

I’m 40  & the best thing is I have been blessed with lots of Pandora jewellery and tonight my hubby is taking me shopping for a Macro Jacobs bag.  Which is total amazing and I am starting to feel like a kid in a sweet shop.

Today I have no words, but turning 40 it’s nothing really, you go to sleep and wake up just like every other birthday. Maybe it will hit me tomorrow when there is no gifts to open.

Monday, 16 April 2012

What do you do?

I remember it being the first question people asked you when you went out... 'what do you do'.
What you did for a job was your status in life & how people summed you up.

Now I had a great title and even better pay for most of my working life so it never much bother me that question until I moved to the UK. I went from being well known and working on amazing jobs to finding it really really hard to get work.   So when people ask 'where do you work' after the ‘what do you do’ I found I was lost, embarrassed, I was nobody.

Somewhere some how I had got wrapped up in being the job title I was doing and not just me. In a result of feeling useless & being nobody I got depression, living in a dark basement flat in winter was not helping. My husband did not know what he would find when he walked in the door. Crazy me, ok me or me in bed. Long story short things changed. That was 11 years ago. So why bring it up now.

Having no job title and being labeled a stay at home mum was something I wanted something I knew I would become once we had kids. At 34 I was having a baby so in my mind my working days where over. No work, no more tube, work politics & egos to deal with I will look after my angels have lunch with friends and go to the gym.

 I think when you are wanting to start a family you are so into babies and a new life you don't look forward to see what life will be like once your baby is growing or grown.

Not working means I don't have an income so my long lunch and shopping days are not a reality. I don't often talk with adults that don't have kids unless it’s the post man, I don't travel on public transport so no book reading on the tube, I don't like shopping it’s no fun with kids, I don't wear heels, I don't wear the clothing I used to. No unplanned lunches dates at nice restaurants and no last minute drinks before heading home.

I never missed it before, but I do now.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

40 next week

Well they say life beings at 30, 40, 50 or whatever age you are at 'that' point in life.
I'm at 'that' point in life where I am saying what happen to ME. I once liked this or that but what do I like NOW.

I don't know and that is what this blog is: my public diary of finding ME.  The girl I wanted to be growing up, the girl I once was, the girl I was before marriage, kids and becoming a stay at home mum. The girl I thought I would be at 40 not the girl I am.

So here goes nothing, wort's and all

Reality Bites
Age 39 years & 360 days
Size 11 (yes in between 10 -12)
Weight: a little more then I want to be - started Weight Watches for the 2nd time.
Hair colour, Orange (dyed)